There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. The office world was thrown into an intensely different routine in a matter of days, and it may be some time before institutions return to any semblance of normal. With that in mind, we understand the pandemic’s toll on our people as we continue to adapt to this “new normal” during our ninth week at home.
Since the mid-March office closures, leadership, human resources, communications and the IT team have all banded together to swiftly transition the team to a work-from-home format. The message from the top has been this: Business will go on, but the health of you and your families comes first — you are safe and secure.
Though the show goes on, we cannot pretend we are the same and are not expected to. At the foundation of our business is our people, and people everywhere are struggling with change and uncertainty. Here are a few ways United Properties is mindfully caring for its people during this unprecedented time:
Clear & frequent communication
Our Executive Leadership Council has frequently sent out emails updating the team and reminding people we need to be flexible during this time understanding that we are all juggling different circumstances, that we should expect communication and responses from team members to perhaps come outside of normal business hours and respecting that people are working different hours to manage life at home, and providing weekly tips and tricks to keep us sane. Encouraging us to go for a walk, take a break, or take PTO whenever we need it is at the forefront of our communications.
Top-notch tech support
Long before the pandemic, our IT team had already equipped the United Properties team with laptops and work-from-home capabilities such as accessing important company databases and tools used every day, which has allowed employees to work remotely when appropriate. Post-closures, video conferencing centers, digital signatures, and vCards were swiftly socialized and adopted, and some employees have gone entirely paperless with the help of OneNote and other programs. That said, we were well equipped to transition into a long-term work-from-home format.
Connecting through Facebook group
A few days into the transition, we launched a private Facebook page as a company forum dedicated to mutual support, sharing and fun. So far, about 60 percent of employees have joined, and we’ve reacted to each other’s posts more than 1,500 times! Sharing photos of our kids, pets, plants and even company memories are keeping us all connected (and a little sane, if we’re being honest).
A focus on health & wellness
United Properties put its employees first early on by declaring a wellness day in which the whole company was given a Friday to prepare for the shelter-in-place order to take effect and spend time with family. This month, Human Resources jumpstarted the Wellness Wednesday initiative, which includes a weekly webinar or activity aimed to improve physical, mental and/or emotional health. Last week, we learned about how sleep impacts all other aspects of health from sleep medicine expert (and BizJournal’s 2019 Women in Business honoree) Sarah Moe!
Digital happy hours
Last but certainly not least, we don’t miss the opportunity to gather the full team for happy hour every once in a while! Our Executive Leadership Council has been hosting popular Skype happy hours to share company updates and maintain that distinct company culture and sense of team that we oh so miss experiencing in person.
United Properties has spent the last 103 years creating deep roots in the communities where we do business, and those deep roots are now more important than ever. United Properties and The Pohlad Companies (the company that owns United Properties) have made significant donations to local food banks and nonprofits focused on providing pandemic relief for our communities who need it most. COVID-19 has shown us what’s important in life, and together we will continue to preserve and write our history as the company continues to evolve in the face of change.
To all our partners, clients, neighbors and friends, look out for one another! It’s okay to feel unsure of what to do as we’re all living through a historic pandemic. Right now, we are all making history.
The People of United Properties